Monday, January 23, 2017

Christmas Economy

Economics is rarely something eleven year olds think about - however, our state testing system believes strongly  in their young abilities  har har and has made it clear that they are to know quite a LOT about it. However, it is not a fifth grade social studies skill...

Solution: Create a mini-economics unit during the largest money making time of the year - CHRISTMAS. 
Have you ever heard of the Christmas Price Index Express? Well, it is just about the cutest, greatest thing for teaching economics during the Christmas season. This cute little train travels through a train set sharing the prices of the 12 days of Christmas items - what they cost and how much they went up or down from the previous year. 
Disclaimer: The site, unfortunately, has prices from 2011, however, it allows for a fun estimation activity at the end to figure out what it would be total today.
Using this site, I turned my classroom into the "Economy Express" and had each stop along the site around my room. I love how it utilizes the different terms and vocabulary! 
Each day before Christmas break, we made a stop at each junction - learning something new about economy. I made THIS booklet to go along with our travels. 
Stop #1: Inflation Station 
Stop #2: Percentage Peak 
Stop #3: Inflation Station 
Stop #4: Fluctuation Farm
At Fluctuation Farms, we worked as analysts to determine price data increases and decreases. I actually paid them a Santa Buck or two this day since they were "hired" by the tree farm to determine sales information for the following year. 
In reading, we are always learning about story elements around this time, so I incorporate that by having the students read a Christmas Tree story with a partner and determining the different plot elements. 
Previous story mountain work with our basel story. 
Partner work plotting the Christmas Tree Story. 
Final assessment later in the week with an additional story. 

In addition to the mini-unit, I also set up a 2 week classroom economy. Now, I choose not to utilize a classroom economy for a number of reasons, however, I do like to use it during this mini unit to help kids review key concepts of economy. Students earn "Santa Bucks" for various actions such as turning in homework, arriving on time, doing their jobs, etc. They have to pay tax out of each morning paycheck - I start with Sales tax, then income tax, then social security tax, etc. Students honestly don't believe me when I keep adding these so I show them one of my pay sheets with each tax taken out! ha. This usually begins a brief discussion on what happens if you don't pay taxes and what tax returns are...
Students can purchase items every day from the classroom store. They can purchase either goods (small toys and candy) or services (cards with things such as "sit with a friend" "eat lunch in the classroom" "Teacher's Chair" etc.). 
Of course, if you utilize classroom economy you know, this helps students understand prioritizing, saving, and price fluctuation based on supply and demand. 
The ever changing Santa Buck price board. 
As you can see, sitting in the teacher's chair was a hot service commodity and since there was such a demand, with limited supply, it went up in price! 

Additional Christmas Economy Resources:
  • I purchased my Santa Bucks on TPT HERE
  • Purchased this Awesome Supply and Demand Unit from the Reflective Educator that I was able to integrate. Comes with a fabulous supply and demand market power point that I printed and put around the room for students to utilize like task cards. 
Over all, this is a fun review unit that I believe helps my students revisit an important 4th grade standard in a quick, but fun and educational way! 
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